Buying School Supplies on a Budget

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The economic times are hitting parents of school age children in a hard way this year. As a parent, what can you do to combat the “I want” syndrome set up by mass media and stores flaunting all kinds of new fangled gadgets for your children?

If your children are old enough to understand a bit about the economy, explain to them what the budget is and that you cannot go over that mark. Letting them in on how much you have to spend will ease the “I want” but cannot have blues.

For children just starting out in school, you can still guide the reigns on your purchases. Let them pick the new lunch box or cool book bag, but you make the other decisions for them according to how much you can afford.

Play “Let’s Make a Deal”

To combat the “I want” syndrome, play let’s make a deal. Here’s how it works. Your child wants name brand shoes. You on the other hand know that the child needs shoes, but can’t afford the latest and greatest. Play let’s make a deal and tell them if they choose the shoes, then other areas, such as clothing, are going to suffer and they must maintain the shoes as long as their feet don’t outgrow them. Giving them a say can often have the desired effect and the shoes will be passed up for a few new outfits found at the local consignment shop.

We all know how hard it is to fit in at school. Their friends, even the really popular ones, will be making similar choices this year. Throw a back to school  party at the consignment shop on dollar day. Agree to take your child and three of their friends with twenty dollars each. Let them browse the racks and make decisions based on the money they have and see who can out shop the others. When everyone is done shopping treat them to lunch and discuss how they feel about their purchases.
Finding Great Supplies on a Budget

For supplies, check to see if you qualify for any programs in your area or if any churches in your area are having back to school days. Often, you can qualify to get a few items free and should take advantage of these things. If you run across a good sale, stock up. Keeping supplies on hand during the year ensures that you won’t be running out at the last minute to by poster board only to find the only color they have left is hot pink.

Check with your office or your spouse’s office to see if they have any extra notebooks or paper they would be willing to part with for a small fee or free. Often these items are left in storage and forgotten about with new ones being purchased for the next big presentation.

Many schools need help with small items that can add up like tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. The best way to combat this to buy a bulk supply from your local supply warehouse store at the beginning of the school year. Have one for every month of the year, if possible. At the beginning of the month send in the item with a note saying who donated the item to the classroom. The teachers will appreciate the effort.

Budget friendly tips…

Poster board — there are several things you can do with it to help save a bit of money. Create bright colored folders with it. Cut the bright colored poster board into flash card sizes for help with quizzing your child (great for math and foreign language class).

If you can sew, you can create a vintage book bag for your child out of an old ratty pair of jeans. Add gems and iron on tattoos that you can pick up at your local craft store to make it uniquely their own.

For a cool designed tie-died t-shirt, use water soluble markers to draw on a plain white t-shirt. Let your child have fun with this creating their own design. Spritz with water and let the colors run together. Once it is dry, run it through the rinse cycle of your washing machine and then dry on low heat. They will have their very own tie-died t-shirt to wear.

If you…

check around and hit sales, it will be easy for you to combat the “I want” syndrome and keep your school budget in check. Who knows, you might even start a trend with some of your ideas.

One last pearl of wisdom, shop throughout the year and stash your finds for a later day. Doing this saves a lot of money and keeps fresh items on hand throughout the school year.



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